HomeCricketExplained Followon Rule in Test Cricket

Explained Followon Rule in Test Cricket

Test cricket, the longest and most traditional format of the sport, is known for its unique rules and strategies. One such rule that often becomes a talking point during matches is the “follow-on” rule. 

The follow-on rule can significantly influence the outcome of a match, making it a crucial aspect of a team’s strategy.  

If you don’t know much about the follow-on rule in cricket, this article will provide you with all the relevant information.

What is the Follow-On Rule?

The follow-on rule allows the team that batted first and gained a significant lead to ask the opposing team to bat again immediately, without resting between their two innings.

Specifically, the rule states that if the team batting second scores significantly fewer runs than the team batting first, the team that batted first can enforce the follow-on. The required lead varies depending on the duration of the match:

In a five-day Test match, the lead must be at least 200 runs.

In a three- or four-day match, such as the Ranji Trophy, the lead must be at least 150 runs.

Read More: What is the Full Form of LBW in Cricket

History of the Followon Rule 

The follow-on rule in Test cricket has evolved significantly since its inception. Initially, in 1787, any side lagging in the first innings had to bat again, regardless of the deficit. By 1835, this practice was codified, mandating a follow-on after a 100-run deficit. Adjustments followed, with the required deficit fluctuating: reduced to 80 runs in 1854, increased to 120 runs in 1894, and further nuanced in 1900, setting different thresholds based on match length. 

The 20th century brought more flexibility, particularly in 1900, when the follow-on became optional after certain deficits. Post-World War II, a brief experimental phase in 1946 allowed first-day declarations after 300 runs, leading to a 1951 rule permitting declarations at any time, a principle that was formally codified in 1957.

By 1980, the follow-on rule was standardized for various match lengths, settling at 200 runs for five-day matches. 

Who Can Declare the Follow-On and Why?

The decision to enforce the follow-on in cricket lies with the captain of the team that leads on the first innings. The primary motive for opting to enforce it is to diminish the chances of the match ending in a draw. By compelling the trailing team to bat again immediately, the leading team curtails the time available for a defensive, time-consuming batting strategy that the trailing team might otherwise adopt to salvage a draw.

Moreover, enforcing the follow-on intensifies the psychological pressure on the trailing team, as they have already been outplayed once. Additionally, as the pitch condition typically worsens over time, batting becomes more challenging, thereby increasing the chances of a favourable outcome for the leading team.

Suggested Read: What is DLS Method in Cricket

When Teams Won After Followon

This is rare, but not impossible. There have been four instances in the history of Test cricket when the teams following-on went on to win the Test. 

The first instance was in 1894, when England overcame Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Despite being forced to follow on after trailing by 261 runs, England scored 437 in their second innings and then bowled Australia out for 166, winning by 10 runs.

The second instance occurred in 1981, again involving England and Australia, this time at Headingley. After following on, England, led by Ian Botham’s unbeaten 149, set a target of 130 runs. Bob Willis then took 8/43, bowling Australia out for 111 and securing an 18-run victory for England.

In 2001, India pulled off a sensational victory against Australia in Kolkata. Following on after a first-innings deficit of 274 runs, India posted 657/7 declared, thanks to VVS Laxman’s 281 and Rahul Dravid’s 180. They then bowled Australia out for 212, winning by 171 runs and breaking Australia’s streak of 16 consecutive Test wins.

The most recent instance was in 2023 when New Zealand defeated England by a single run in Wellington. After being forced to follow on, New Zealand set a target of 258 runs. Despite England’s strong position at 201/5, New Zealand’s bowlers staged a dramatic comeback to clinch a thrilling victory by just one run.

Further Read: Explained Powerplay in ODI Cricket


The follow-on rule remains one of the most intriguing aspects of Test cricket. Its application requires astute judgment and deep understanding of the game’s dynamics.

While it offers significant strategic advantages, it also carries inherent risks that can dramatically alter the course of a match. Captains must carefully consider various factors, including pitch conditions, weather forecasts, and player fatigue, before making the decision to enforce the follow-on.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular